Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Japan sets good example for efficient broadband infrastructure -- an argument for NN after all?


On June 26, I wrote a piece on this blog which suggested that the faster broadband speeds overseas, especially in Japan, could argue against network neutrality legislation.

Today, Aug. 29, 2007, Blaine Harden of The Washington Post Foreign Service has a provocative story “Japan’s Warp-Speed Ride to Internet Future.”
There is also a thumbnail picture there “In a Tokyo demonstration using high-speed broadband” that the visitor will find at the Post website by searching for the writer’s name.

The report says that broadband speeds are 8 to 30 times that in the U,S. Why? Some of it is physical. Japan is more densely populated and smaller geographically. In Japan, the copper wiring is newer and uses short loops. But a bigger reason seems to be public policy. The Japanese government has required telecommunications companies (such as Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, NTT) to open up their wires to smaller ISP companies. As a result of this “competitive” pressure, larger companies like NTT have been more aggressive in wiring residences (including using fiber-optic cables) for high speed broadband use.

Harden writes, “Yet the story of how Japan outclassed the United States in the production of better, cheaper Internet service suggests that forced government regulation can pay substantial dividends.”

This is certainly a good topic for libertarian think tanks like Cato to ponder.

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